Essays: Lectures and Speeches |
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Lectures and Speeches

In most respects, lectures are like articles, but there are two crucial differences. The article should pass the test of speakability, but it can allow all kinds of complications and elisions because it won't actually be spoken in one piece. The lecture allows no such luxuries. Hence its rhetorical structure, on the page, looks far more obvious. But I have secured some of my favourite effects in the lecture form and don't want them consigned to oblivion just yet. I would take the effects out of context and mount them separately if I could, but the context is nearly always crucial, and anyway the viewer is under no obligation to go on scrolling.

The first two lectures were delivered in Australia. The piece on libraries, here called Our First Book, was delivered as the inaugural David Scott Mitchell Lecture at the State Library of New South Wales in November 2002, and then again at the State Library of Victoria shortly afterwards. It was printed in The Meaning of Recognition and recorded live by the ABC, a performance whch can be heard in the Audio section.

The piece on Philip Hodgins, here called The Meaning of Recognition, was delivered as the La Trobe University/Australian Book Review Annual Lecture at the Mildura Writers' Festival in July 2003, in gratitude for my being awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. It was printed as the title essay of The Meaning of Recognition.

The section "Speeches About Television" gives links to writings on that subject at greater than column length. It might be thought that these more extended writings took television more seriously than my short weekly column did, but their author persists in believing that the weekly column was seriously meant even at its least grave. It can't be denied, however, that a speech gave me more room to expand my analysis, and I would still, if given the platform, go on talking about television until, like one of those birds marvelled at by Sir David Attenborough high in the Andes, I flew in one last diminishing circle and disappeared with a lonely cry.

Painting "What doth gravity out of his bed at midnight?" (Henry IV Part I Act II Sc 4) by Ophelia Redpath